Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dressing for Two Wheels, Then and Now

I am so pleased to have seen Eric Wilson's article from New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn's blog On the Runway, about the winner of a contest to design cycling gear appropriate to women commuters--a subject close to my heart.

The challenge, as every cyclist-to-work knows, is reconciling the effort and exposure to grease, chain lube, splashes, etc. inherent in even a short ride with looking clean, professional and crisp at the office. Congratulations, Jessica Velasques!

If ladies' cycling costumes seem remote from your everyday interests, consider this: in fashion history terms, they were absolutely may-jah (as Victoria Beckham might put it). Because without lady cyclists, bloomers--those voluminous tight-ankled trousers pioneered by Amelia Bloomer, might never have gotten in gear (not literally, of course, that was their entire point).

Athletic Victorian girls who wanted a ride in the park made bloomers a part of the landscape. And bloomers, of course, eventually evolved into harem trousers, sailor pants, khakis, and jeans of all dimension we all rely on today.

So here's to you lady cyclists! Keep it up, and an entire new, entirely sensible garment may yet evolve into a fashion staple.

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